Country Strong

PG-13, 111 Minutes.

The film’s plot is rather familiar to seasoned women movie-goers. A talented and accomplished woman can’t handle her success and falls prey to drug-addiction; namely pills and alcohol. She is controlled by her husband (and manager), who makes the unilateral, and disastrous decision to release his alcoholic wife from rehab early. Add to this melodrama a “younger” attractive woman competitively nibbling at the heels of the aging star’s career and love interest, and you have the recipe for this predictable and stereotypical country stew.

Gwyneth Paltrow plays the deep-fried star, Kelly Canter, who is struggling in her career, in her marriage, in her affair and with her conscious after sustaining a miscarriage in a drunken fall off of a stage. The emotions are always running high, but there are so many plots revolving around tragedy and despair it’s hard to get grounded in a full understanding of anyone of them.

Tim McGraw plays James, Kelly’s selfish and cold husband who drives her into the arms of Beau Hutton (Garrett Hedlund), a weak-minded, yet well-intended, country singer wannbe performer. But Kelly can hardly trust any of her men-folk with Chiles (Leighton Meester) on the loose and chasing after the men she is supposed to be able to count on during her recovery from alcoholism and her attempt to revitalize her career. The movie is another tired saga of a younger woman trying to sabotage, rather than encourage, the success of another (albeit troubled) woman.

Paltrow does a decent job of acting and singing. Her wardrobe is lovely; her songs snappy and the overall movie is paced at an entertaining clip. However, the storyline is patriarchal, well-worn and boringly stereotypical. Even when Kelly Cantor eventually rises like a Phoenix from the ashes of her circumstance (although you’re sure what causes this sudden surge of strength) you still question whether she the ultimate master of her fate and the captain of her rocky ship. A better choice for the Adventure Woman might be true story of Loretta Lynn, Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980).

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